December 9, 2013

I needed skills...and TAFE was just over the back fence

By Rosie Scroggie

Kate is a small business owner, Stop TAFE Cuts supporter and proud TAFE graduate.

Her initial training in industrial chemistry at the Gordon Institute led to her first job working at a milk factory in cheese production during the 1960s.

But after having four children and working mainly on the family farm for most of the 1970s and 1980s she found herself without many of the skills required to find employment.

“I needed skills, I needed to become computer literate, so in the late 80s I went back to TAFE.”

In a small country town, TAFE was really the only option.

“It was just over the back fence, so it was very convenient to juggle with the kids and the farm. I went on to do correspondence courses later, but when I was first returning to study after such a long break it was great to be in an environment with real teachers.”

“TAFE gave me job skills. TAFE made me computer literate. It gave me the necessary skills to set up a small business to supplement the income from the farm – this was really important with a growing family and drought years.”

Studying an array of business administration and farm management subjects, Kate set up a mobile secretarial business to assist farmers and small agri-businesses in bookkeeping, accounts and general administrative needs. This also led to the modernisation of the record keeping and planning for the family farm.

“We went from my husband and his father “doing the books” in an exercise book with a carpenter’s pencil to having everything on the computer. I think the skills I gained at TAFE really helped our business grow.”

Kate is now “semi-retired” having ceased the family’s dairy operation, and now manages a beef enterprise.

“TAFE is so important in rural areas. It’s often the only really accessible option for people. If people in rural areas need to learn new skills to prosper and develop they need to be able to access local, affordable and appropriate education and training. And TAFE is really the only place to do that.”

“If we continue to keep cutting opportunities in rural areas, we will continue to lose young people to the big cities and soon enough there won’t be a rural Australia!”

“We need to Stop TAFE Cuts – because rural Australia needs access to education as much as people in Melbourne or Sydney.”